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Thread: Digital Prints - Horrors

  1. #21

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Pieter, I tend to agree with you. In retrospect I do remember the manager saying he thought the digital prints "came out great", so this is the printer not meeting my expectations, notwithstanding a lot of back and forth on options.

    The only challenge is what paper, as I would have to supply it, and I am certainly not knowledgeable enough to know. I had discussed with them a metallic paper choice, but they never offered an option other than matte.

    So I am back to square on the question of how best to optimize.

    Thanks for the input. You are all very generous with your time and expertise!

  2. #22
    Moderator
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    All things considered, it sounds like the best investment of your "printing time" just now would be to shop around for another lab that is able to be more responsive to your needs and preferences.

  3. #23
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    "Metallic" is an odd Kodak advertising window look, and not the same thing as glossy. As Oren suggested, you should fish around and try a limited range of smaller more affordable prints from more than one lab, just to test the waters. A couple of hints what to request: Fuji Crystal Archive gloss, versus Fujiflex Supergloss, based on your previous hints what you seem to like. But for awhile it's all a dance. It takes communication for a responsible lab to understand your needs. And likewise, it might take you awhile to learn how to optimize your own exposures for sake of a specific print medium.

  4. #24
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Quote Originally Posted by pdmoylan View Post
    Pieter, I tend to agree with you. In retrospect I do remember the manager saying he thought the digital prints "came out great", so this is the printer not meeting my expectations, notwithstanding a lot of back and forth on options.

    The only challenge is what paper, as I would have to supply it, and I am certainly not knowledgeable enough to know. I had discussed with them a metallic paper choice, but they never offered an option other than matte.

    So I am back to square on the question of how best to optimize.

    Thanks for the input. You are all very generous with your time and expertise!
    I like Canson Baryta Photographique. It has a satin finish and gives bright color without being overly glossy. Epson just launched some new fine art papers and they should be able to supply you with a sample pack of the different finishes. I'm pretty sure Canson and Hahnemuhle have sample packs as well. There are a number of paper shops online, or try Freestyle, Adorama or B&H or any of the other photo shops.

  5. #25
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    There is a lot of good input above. Regarding what you said, ..."The colors are beautiful, but is the lack of edge sharpness which makes the prints unusable."..., forgive me if you are well aware of this, but when and how you apply sharpening is important. I always resized the TIFF to what I planned to send the printer before sharpening. Do the prints look very different sharpness-wise from how they did on the screen? They should not, if they do something is probably hosed up somewhere.

    I agree it's a good idea to try some different papers. They can be remarkably different in how they behave in the printer even if the surfaces appear similar to the eye.

    If you are using a custom or semi-custom service, make sure they know if you want them to "print it like this" or use the file as a starting point.
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  6. #26

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    it sounds to me like your choice of paper is the cause of the disappointing prints.
    Don't underestimate the effect of the print head - and the way the ink laydown is carried out. Some current generation print heads are vastly better at handling certain well-known matte papers than those of a decade ago - and the results are much less muddy in the shadows & generally sharper overall.

  7. #27

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Pdmoylan,

    When I was completing my graduate degree I had a similar experience as you. The first digital prints I made had no relationship to what I was viewing on the screen. They were terrible. So I spent a lot of time really learning to make a legitimate fine art print. Just like learning to print in a darkroom, this took a lot of time, technical experimentation and comprehension as well as a lot of money. It's a very involved process and unless you are willing to seriously invest in the process I would just work with a good fine art printer.

    I do not like to compare darkroom and digital prints as (at least to me) they are two completely different mediums. One is not better that the other. What I will say about digital printing from negatives it is does open some technical possibilities that don't exist in the darkroom. A good scan is very important, and is an art unto itself. Once that is achieved the precision in which you can edit is far greater in Photoshop or similar program than what can be done in a darkroom. For example, I print for several galleries and photographers in the Washington D.C. area. One of the Photographers I recently printed a show for has worked as a photographer since the 80's however he has not done any serious film work since to early 2000s. All of the prints we created are negatives he printed years ago in the darkroom. So when we printed his work digitally he was amazed at how much more information we could pull from highlights and shadows as well as being easier to edit overall. This is simply because from a technical perspective there is more information in a negative than traditional darkroom materials can translate. This is not the case in a fine art digital print if it is done well.

    Additionally, there are far more paper choices in a digital format than in traditional formats. This is a huge advantage for the artist looking to translate their work into a fine art print. I am a boutique printer, meaning my process is very collaborative and not just "do you want that on matt or glossy" approach. It's a process and the goal is to introduce options to the artist that best translate their work. I routinely print on multiple papers as smaller test prints so a client can see the difference of how their work looks on different media. Some photographers I have worked with have related this process as a religious experience, most just have their mind blown by the different options that exist that they were never aware of. We then narrow the choice down to a paper and then print their work.

    So as to your original question, "is it possible to get great looking inkjet prints from 4x5 drumscans..." it's absolutely possible. You just need to dedicate the time, effort and money to learning to really print well. If you can't or don't want to do that, just find a really competent printer who is willing to collaborate with you.

    I hope this helps.

    -Joshua

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